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FIR-8.04 - Fire Extinguishers For Multi-Family Dwellings

Administrative Rule Adopted by Portland Fire & Rescue Pursuant to Rule-Making Authority

To provide a solution and/or relief for multi-family dwelling owners whose fire extinguishers are frequently stolen, or are exposed to weather and temperature extremes.

This policy applies to all multi-family dwelling buildings where Portland Fire & Rescue has authority.

The general requirement for the availability of fire extinguishers for use as a ‘first-aid’ firefighting tool is recognized as a reasonable and prudent rule. Due to the easy access afforded not only to the responsible members of the public but also to those who would abuse, misuse, or steal these extinguishers the application of this rule must be tempered.
The following points are presented to aid in understanding the application of this policy to situations that are less than ideal.
PUFC 1002.1 General. Portable fire extinguishers shall be installed in occupancies and locations as set forth in this code and as required by the chief.
NFPA Standard 10, 1-6.3: Extinguishers shall be conspicuously located where they will be readily accessible and immediately available in the event of fire. Preferably they shall be located along normal paths of travel, including exits from areas.
NFPA Standard 10, Appendix A-1-2: Portable fire extinguishers are appliances to be used by the occupants of a fire-endangered building or area. They are primarily of value for immediate use on small fires.
NFPA Standard 10, Appendix A-1-1: Principles of Fire Extinguishment. Many fires are small at origin and may be extinguished by the use of proper portable fire extinguishers. It is strongly recommended that the fire department be notified as soon as a fire is discovered. This alarm should not be delayed awaiting results of application of portable fire extinguishers.
Fire extinguishers can represent an important segment of any overall fire protection program. However, their successful functioning depends upon the following conditions having been met:
  1. The extinguisher is properly located and in working order. 

  2.  The extinguisher is of proper type for a fire which may occur.

  3. The fire is discovered while still small enough for the extinguisher to be effective.

  4. The fire is discovered by a person, ready, willing, and able to use the extinguisher.

2000 Portland Uniform Fire Code (PUFC), 1998 NFPA Standard 10.

As can be seen by the code references, the requirement for and placement of fire extinguishers calls for judgement on the part of the Inspector.
  1. Place extinguishers to provide coverage as per PUFC and NFPA Standard 10.

  2. If loss of extinguishers is a concern, have the owner/agent take the following steps:

    A. Provide a protective box for the extinguisher (metal with breakable glass & break tool; plastic box with pull release; etc.)

    B. Provide an alarm buzzer to indicate locally when the extinguisher is removed.

    C. Provide improved area lighting over extinguisher.

    D. For laundry room extinguisher consider relocating to area outside of laundry room door and follow steps A, B, and C.

    E. Mark extinguishers clearly to reduce theft for resale.

    F. If loss continues the owner/agent may then submit a written request for waiver of the extinguisher requirements.
Where no interior common areas (refer to FMO Practices for description) or special hazards exist, extinguishers are not required.
Note: Where fire extinguishers are required and no interior common area exists, the reason shall be noted in the Comments box for the violation in Fires 2000.

Filed for inclusion in PPD June 13, 2003.
Revision filed in PPD September 27, 2004.
Originally adopted by Fire Marshal as Fire Prevention Division Policy Manual Document H-4, effective May 4, 1989, revised July 22, 2004.